Merfolk Species in Valtena | World Anvil


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From Incador's Book of Beasts

The Sea Mother filled her arms with all manner of life. Colorful fish, sleek sharks, and massive whales called her watery depths home. On one of her calmer days, she watched the bubbles rise from the ocean floor and formed them into a new creature. She pulled the sea foam towards her and fashioned fins. The hair came from the kelp which swayed in the currents. She released her new creation in warm shallow waters and watched with joy as they frolicked and swam among the rays and dolphins. Soon, they built cities like the ones they saw up on the shore and ventured further and deeper into the Sea Mother’s domain.
Book of the Waves
  The merfolk are mysterious creatures that live under the waves in most of Valtena’s oceans. Their societies and politics are rarely known to those who live on land. They were created by Selene and carry on her great love of the sea. Merfolk appear to have the upper body of a human with the body of a fish or dolphin from the waist down.  

Basic Information


Merfolk have the upper bodies of a human and the lower half is fused into a single fishlike tail with a fluke. Some merfolk have a cetacean like coloration and seem to be more common in deeper waters. Their hands have webbing between the fingers, and instead of ears, they have more finlike appendages which include special receptors allowing the merfolk to detect electrical currents in the water. In addition to breathing water, they are also able to breathe through their skin and can survive for short periods of time out of water.

Life Stages


Merfolk are born from eggs. The female lays a single egg and wraps it in kelp leaves to protect it. For months, it develops in secret until it hatches fully formed and able to breathe underwater and swim. The mother nurses her newly hatched child until they’re able to feed independently.


Young merfolk that have weaned from their mothers are called Fry. All fry appear female and don’t differentiate until puberty when some may become male depending on their diet and water conditions. As fry, they are still dependent on the adults around them for protection. They rarely leave the safety of the settlement.


Adult merfolk are primarily female. Males are much rarer, and it’s not uncommon to find settlements of only mermaids. As adults, they have reached physical maturity and are able to breed. Under the right conditions, large and dominant females may turn into males if no other mermen are around. They continue to protect the shoal but often die prematurely defending the mermaids from sharks or other predators.


The merfolk most often live in coastal underwater settlements near coral reefs. They rarely build cities and prefer towns and villages made up of a single shoal. When they do build cities, it’s deep underwater in the open ocean where they have more room and are less likely to be bothered by passing ships. They have to live underwater, and except by magical means, are unable to breathe above the water for more than a few minutes.

Dietary Needs

Merfolk are omnivores but primarily eat fish and shellfish. They follow other predators in search of schools of fish. Farms tend to be small and make use of verticality with long seaweed like crops. They eat their food raw with no ability to start fires or dry their food in the sun.


Most merfolk live in groups known as shoals. These are often comprised of several family units. They are highly predatory towards other sea life. They are well known for being able to tame other predators such as sharks, dolphins, and seals. Among the beastfolk, they are often seen as being highly animalistic and hostile towards other creatures getting close to their settlements. Very little is known about their culture or way of life.

Additional Information

Geographic Origin and Distribution

The Ocean is the only place the merfolk are able to call home. They were originally created for the shallower coastal waters, but they have since traveled and settled across the world. No one knows what the sea floor is like better than them. Of note, the merfolk only recognize one ocean unlike most other races who believe that there are multiple oceans. They are able to live on whatever flat stretches of ocean floor they’re able to find and can withstand immense pressure that would kill anyone else. They use this to their advantage as protection from predators who can’t follow them as deep.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Merfolk possess the unique ability to see and breathe underwater. While they have good eyesight in their natural habitat, above water, they are only able to see for short distances. They are also extremely sensitive to electrical currents in the water and use that ability to hunt by feeling their prey move in the water. Their voices are also capable of being an enchanting melody or a horrible scream that stuns other animals from a distance.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions


Merfolk are often reclusive and rarely interact with other beastfolk. They inhabit vastly different realms, and the inability for merfolk to stray far from the ocean limits how much contact they can make with other species. Their connection as beastfolk is purely based on the physical appearance of being half human half animal.


Humanoids have many stories about the merfolk as being both guardians to sailors and leading men to their doom. The song of a siren is seen as alluring causing people to jump off their ships in search of it. Likewise, there are tales of the mermaid’s scream being enough to shatter ships. But in some regions, the merfolk have been known to guide sailors through storms or rescue those who fell overboard or were stranded.


Draconids hold similar views towards merfolk as humans. Their opinions are generally favorable due to the marriage between Qazakthein and Selene, and beached merfolk are helped back into the water. Merfolk often believe that the Dragonfolk have the ability to fly and live in the air just as easily as they are able to live in the sea.


Goblinoids treasure merfolk scales for their beauty and value. Those that live close enough to the water are known to hunt merfolk for their scales. The two groups rarely get along, and some merfolk tell stories of shore monsters who lure young mermaids to their doom on the rocks.
Typical male merfolk
Typical female merfolk
70-80 years
Average Length
Males: 6'6" - 7'
Females: 5'8" - 6'2"
Geographic Distribution
The Sea Wife formed a child from the sea foam and kelp able to live alongside her within the ocean's depths. But there were many dangers there, and she set her child in the warm shallows where there were small fish that posed no danger to her newest creation. It grew and frolicked never dreaming of leaving the safety near the shore. The merfolk refused to follow her into the dark depths. Disheartened by their lack of love for her, Selene went to find Fate in search of an answer.
Beneath the waves far from the tide, there you'll find the Ocean's Bride
The merfolk she made from foamy kelp and set seals at their side.

Cover image: by DigitalCurio


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Dec 2, 2023 15:16

cough cough


You wanna see what we did for the last events? Go, click here: Eddies Major Events
Dec 11, 2023 14:52 by Elizabread


Check out my world Valtena!
Dec 7, 2023 00:07 by TJ Trewin

I like the detail of them being able to detect electrical currents in the water!

Journals of Yesteryear

Dec 11, 2023 14:57 by Elizabread

Thank you! I was really inspired by how sharks hunt and thought it would be appropriate for merfolk who primarily hunt fish

Check out my world Valtena!
Dec 21, 2023 15:23

I like the part about them being able to change gender based on need, and that their gender is chosen based on diet, it reminds me of certain types of aquatic animals. Great job, keep up the good work !!

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